The dealership filed a lawsuit Sept. 7 in a Broward County, Fla. Circuit Court. It names Shiraaz Sookralli, Champion Porsche's vice president of marketing; his wife Vimla Sookralli; and the fictitious Champion Autosport, a shell fund Sookralli is alleged to have created and used to siphon off deposits, as defendants.
The suit alleges that Sookralli, who had worked at the dealership for around 10 years, created a fraudulent scheme to present buyers with fake buyer deposit agreements that "failed to include any manufacturer or allocation information regarding the vehicles he was purportedly selling and contained false and fraudulent seller information." Sookralli allegedly used the bogus documents to get purchasers to believe they were purchasing Porsche vehicles that "did not exist, nor would Shiraaz place an order for the such vehicle." Instead, he created the Champion Autosport account and instructed purchasers to wire their deposit money or credit card payments directly into that account.
Sookralli is accused of collecting more than $2.5 million this way and transferring the funds from the Champion Autosport account with Bank of America to his personal accounts. The dealer claims it communicated via email with Sookralli, who "identified twenty-four transactions in his scheme to defraud the plaintiff and consumers. The amount of funds Shiraaz admitted to receiving is $2,560,198," the injunction to freeze the fraudulent bank account reads.
But many users on the Rennlist forum of Porsche enthusiasts, where word of the lawsuits first surfaced, aren't buying the dealership's contention that it knew nothing of the scam before Sookralli disappeared in late August. They've mocked up a faked "WANTED" ad using his likeness.
Champion Porsche reportedly isn't speaking and is directing all affected buyers to its law firm. In a statement to The Drive, Porsche Cars North America said it learned about the situation from the dealership and added, "Champion Porsche has assured us it will help Porsche buyers who might have been impacted and is asking those customers to give their information to Champion's legal counsel."
The Drive notes that Sookralli was the target of another lawsuit filed in February from M&L Luxury Cars over what it alleges was a fraudulent scheme over two $500,000 911 Rs it ordered — one from Champion Porsche through Sookralli, and the other through an entity called Rampage Motors Inc. that appears to be another of his shells. The first car was never delivered, despite a $350,000 deposit, and involved a subsequent series of bad refund checks from Sookralli. Meanwhile, the second was delivered but at a $350,000 markup. Champion Porsche was named as a co-defendant in that suit, which will surely raise questions about what the dealership knew about its VP and why it didn't at least keep rigorous oversight of his sales activities.
Adding to the intrigue is Champion Porsche's acknowledgment in the complaint that Sookralli, who has 10 children, developed "serious financial troubles through the payment of child support and money judgments against him," including the garnishing of his wages by American Express.
Meanwhile, accounts devoted to the issue are popping up on Instagram and Twitter, and buyers and enthusiasts of the brand are angry. Says Rennlist member foster, "Champion made a real bad move when they referred all communications on this thru their legal team. I have no idea how deep this gets but it sounds pretty deep. If Im (sic) Porsche, I would have serious concern from this fall out. This is catastrophic IMO."